Thala Beach Nature Reserve is located on 58 hectares in northern Australia along a pristine beachfront and wild jungle. With two UNESCO world heritage sites right next door — the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest — the resort is a great place for the family to stay while exploring both. It’s also just a 15-minute drive from the lively town of Port Douglas. You will be immersed in nature as soon as you set foot on the property, which provides sweeping views of the coastline and access to two private beaches paired with gorgeous accommodations and hotel amenities.
Eighty-three timber and granite bungalows are distributed throughout the reserve, providing four different experiences depending on which type you choose. The one-bedroom Jungle Walk and Eucalyptus Bungalows are situated in the forest; the one-bedroom Coral Sea Bungalows are located on the highest point of the peninsula and closest to the lodge, with breathtaking views of the Coral Sea. We arrived late on our first night and I awoke to my child standing on the veranda happily shouting, “Mama, open your eyes — you have to see this, it is so pretty!”
The Sandpiper Suite, which has room for a family, includes one bedroom and a living room right next to the beach with magnificent ocean views.
Osprey’s Restaurant is tucked within the treetops overlooking the Coral Sea and combines panoramic views with outstanding food that showcases local ingredients. They offer both a breakfast buffet and an à la carte breakfast each morning, as well as lunch and dinner. For the evening meal, the reserve offers daily specials in the form of artfully crafted three-course menus highlighting the bounty within the region. Osprey’s also accommodates the needs of kids with high chairs and menus catering to young palates. The birdbath in a tree next to the restaurant provided plenty of entertainment for my daughter — she was happy to watch the birds during our meals and was also excited to see what type of bird would say hello next.
The well-stocked Masked Plover Bar & Curlews Lounge is perfect for sundowners or drinks with poolside and coastline views.
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Thala Beach Nature Reserve offers several complimentary experiences, and I highly recommend experiencing them all during your stay. Activities include stargazing, a coconut tour, guided birdwatching, garden and nature walks, and a talk by elders from the local Aboriginal community.
The reserve has so many different established walking trails that the staff provides a trail map. We hiked a few of them and enjoyed them all. You can also organize a kayak tour or another local tour with the help of the friendly concierges.
The private-access beach and two free-form rock swimming pools will make every member of the family happy as a clam with hours spent swimming around to cool off from the tropical heat. There is beach access at the northern end of Oak Beach, which offers 2 miles of pristine, empty shoreline with loungers, hammocks, showers and a bar under the palm trees along the sand.
TIP: It is not advised to swim at any of Australia’s northern beaches during stinger season, roughly November to May. Your options for water fun are beaches with stinger nets or a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, where you will wear head-to-toe stinger suits while you enjoy the water. As an added benefit, stinger suits also protect you and the kids from the harsh sun.
We visited the resort in November during stinger season and enjoyed the swimming pool immensely after our excursions in the Daintree Rainforest. The main swimming pool, located next to the main lodge, provides child-friendly features such as different levels, a small waterfall, a secret pirate cove and a shallow walk-in area perfect for toddlers.
The property also has a gift shop and art gallery as well as a spa and massage studio. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit the spa with all the activities available onsite and nearby, though we did visit the gift shop frequently for a little ice cream splurge.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is owned by an eco-minded family who purchased the land with 100 acres of sugarcane, then spent the next 30 years planting trees and restoring the damaged ecosystem. It’s a beautiful and inspiring success story of how we can restore the environment and ecosystem of overused land, and the care they’ve taken is visible to everybody lucky enough to witness the returned wildlife and amazing nature.
Upon arrival, guests receive a personal aluminum water bottle to keep in order to avoid using plastic bottles.
The resort is located 45 minutes’ drive north of the Cairns airport along the stunning Captain Cook Highway (you may need more time depending on how often you stop to enjoy the views along the coast). We decided to rent a car and self-drive since we knew we would like to explore the Daintree Rainforest as well.
You can also book a transfer via shuttle bus or private car from the Cairns international and domestic airports. Last but not least, you have the option to arrive via helicopter as Thala Beach Nature Reserve has a helipad.
Editor’s Note: Nicole received a media package in order to review Thala Beach Nature Reserve for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Thala Beach Nature Reserve.
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